The Labour-NZ First Government is turning its back on improving Northland’s roads with Transport Minister Phil Twyford’s confirmation this morning that the four-laning of State Highway One between Auckland and Northland won’t go ahead, National’s Transport Spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross and Regional Development Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith say.
“On Morning Report this morning Mr Twyford washed his hands of the project saying a few extra passing lanes and some barriers would be enough,” Mr Ross says.
“This road was prioritised for significant upgrading by National, not at random, but because it serves as the gateway from New Zealand’s largest city to our northern most and least affluent region.
“State Highway One between Auckland and Whangarei is a very busy and dangerous stretch of highway that all local mayors say is the number transport priority for their region.
“It has been acknowledged for years as needing to be brought up to expressway standard to serve current and future traffic needs and help the economic development of the region.”
Mr Twyford also said it wasn’t his place as Transport Minister to select major projects for the transport agency.
“Mr Twyford can’t have it both ways. By his standard, how is it okay for him to demand specific projects in Auckland - including his promise for light rail to service the Prime Minister’s electorate? An Auckland light rail network that Northlanders will be taxed more at the pump to pay for while their own State Highway One upgrade sits stalled,” Mr Ross says.
“In addition, Mr Twyford’s colleague, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones is hand-picking pork barrel transport projects down the road from his own house,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“This Government has obviously decided to replace meaningful infrastructure investment in regional New Zealand that will encourage development, with ‘Santa Claus’ Jones wandering around giving bits of money to a few pet projects.
“It’s a roundabout here, a church renovation there, the odd passing lane. But large meaningful transport investments that grow regions and transform lives are out the window.
“Cancellation of upgrading State Highway One into Northland is another example of the Government giving a little bit with one hand and taking away much more from the regions with the other.
“They are running a giant confidence trick against regional New Zealand. And people in our regions are rapidly starting to see it.”